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Old 11-21-2003, 01:15 PM
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Changed Tranny Fluid>FAILURE!

Good day, Newbie here. TH400 working good in my '80 Malibu mated with a 350. Had car for about 6 or 7 months, and the trans seemed like it was taking too long to shift out of first. The RPM's would revv high, and then second would kick in. This is while going at a low cruising speed. If I mash it, like off a light, it would shift good and smooth. SO, I changed the fluid, filter, and put in some Lucas thick tranny help. Dropped it in gear, and NOTHING. No reverse, drive... The RPM's didn't even drop like it was trying to go in gear.

Mind you, the old trans fluid was a nice reddish color, and had no shavings or metallic peices in it. Just a lil' sludge around the circle black rubber thing on the bottom of the pan. I appreciate any help, and will answer all questions to the best of my knowledge (don't know that much about transmissions
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Old 11-21-2003, 02:02 PM
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Drop the pan and make sure the filter is seated well enough.
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Old 11-21-2003, 02:07 PM
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lol don't have any help for you but that circle black thingy is a magnet to help collect any metal shavings that may be present. hope you can get your answer and get her going agian.
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Old 11-21-2003, 02:39 PM
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Ahhh... I was wondering what that was. So, is it possible for the trans to go ALL the way out after changing the fluid and filter? I dropped the pan and filter again this morning, and put Valvoline Max Life in it and some Hapco Tranny Help, and it crept forward in drive and barely in reverse. But it's an improvement!

Here's a symptom.. I checked my fluid levels after the change, and I was over a quart too high. So I disconnected the trans line from the radiator to drain some out (how much harm was that?) and the tranny fluid was coming out in little spurts, not flowing. Why?

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Old 11-21-2003, 04:29 PM
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Something is wrong with your filter installation. You are sucking air into your pump so the problem is above the fluid level. Did you remove the old gasket B4 installing the new one with the filter? Is the feed neck cracked on your filter?
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Old 11-21-2003, 04:36 PM
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Hmmm... I did change the gasket on the pan with a fel-pro. The old gasket seemed ok. I changed the filter to a new one, it seemed ok. There are three lines on a th400, correct? Two to the trans and one to the back of the manifold or somethin'. There was a 6 inch rubber hose on my modulator, and it was split in two, so I replaced that, too. It doesn't seem as if fluiud runs thru there. Won't be back online until tuesday, so I'll catch up with you all then!!! THANKS!!!!
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Old 11-21-2003, 06:28 PM
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On a TH400 there is an o-ring on the top end of the tube from the filter. There is also a rubber seal on the filter at the other end. The filter is held in place by a bolt going into the valve body. The bolt does not hold the filter tight in place, it just keeps it from dropping off. It does sound like there may be a problem with the fluid not being picked-up out of the pan. I would check the proper instalation of that filter.

The use of those additives does nothing to improve the performance of that trans if it is in proper working order. It also usually does no good to change the trans fluid and filter on a trans that isn't working properly, anymore than it helps to change the engine oil because of a rod knock.
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Old 11-23-2003, 07:39 PM
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reading some of these reminds me i've had the o-ring come off my old filter and not let the new one seat properly if you haven't already checked this.
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Old 11-23-2003, 11:14 PM
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There was a 6 inch rubber hose on my modulator, and it was split in two, so I replaced that, too.

that was probably the cause of your original problem.
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Old 11-24-2003, 04:12 PM
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Yup no vacuum getting to the modulator would definitely cause late shifts as the transmission thinks you at full throttle at the time.
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Old 11-25-2003, 11:22 AM
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Is this a brighter day I see????? You know, that was the ONLY problem that I had out of my trans- late shifting from first to second- since I bought the Mally. Other than that, the gears would kick in nice and firm, reverse worked good (I hear that that's the first to go when a tranny is failing) -it was fine. Upon changing the filter, yes, there was a small amount of sludge around the magnet, but it didn't look like metal shavings or anything floating around in the fluid...

And a lil' background on the 'mechanics'- They both (after one guy changed it and it no longer worked, the other cuy said let him replace the fluid with maxlife and the hapco) are members of the Detroit Chevy Caprice Club (DC-3) and most of us have 700r4's. So their trans experience is with 700's, not 400's. So it's looking like it is very possible that BOTH of them could've overlooked the correct way to install the filter. Is this feasible???
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Old 11-25-2003, 11:55 AM
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It doesn't matter if one is in a club or not, mistakes can be made. I have left the O ring in and although I didn't have your problem I had to take it all apart. 700r's also have an "O" ring on the filter neck. Quite often they too don't get pulled out and could cause the problems you have. If I was you I would pull the pan, pull the filter, make sure there is nothing up in the hole the filter goes inot, inspect the filter for cracks from being forced, put in a new one if required ( cheap insurance at this point) refill correctly and good chance you will be in business.
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Old 11-25-2003, 12:21 PM
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The point of the club mention was to compound the fact that they mostly work on 700r4's, which are in most 77-90 caprices. And I was only saying that becuase I didn't know if the installation of a filter on a TH400 would be the exact same as one on a 700r4. If all the steps are the same, then the chances of my problem being merely a filter install problem dwindle to bits, being that they've done a filter change for just about every one in our club, and they turned out fine. But, I'm with you on triple-checking the installation of the filter and checking the neck and stuff. I'm all for anything prior to dropping the trans and getting a rebuild!

Here's a question- doesn't the RPM's supposed to drop when you put the car in gear- even if it doesn't move when u press the pedal? My car now sounds the same in drive, reverse, neutral, all that.
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Old 11-25-2003, 04:54 PM
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The rpm should drop a little when it goes into gear. Once again points towards lack of hyd pressure possibly caused by filter problems. I wasn't ragging on the club members, I simply meant even if you are a car guy, you can make mistakes. I been foolin with cars for almost 50 years and you should see my trail of mistakes.
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Old 11-25-2003, 07:37 PM
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First, I believe the 700r4 came out sometime in the 80's, so they wouldn't have been original in the 77 Caprice.

Second, everyone, I don't care how long they have been doing anything, can make a mistake. Since the fluid and filter change seems to be the beginning of the problem that you currently have, go back and check what was done.

Lastly, the engine RPM will not change when the trans is placed in gear if the trans is not actually going in gear and placing stress on the engine. In other words, if it is not trying to move the vehicle.
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